On the Voyage of the Beagle.

B’s problem with dinosaurs is that at the moment every book he picks up when he wants to read to the Star contains pictures of snarling teeth devouring smaller, cuter animals and he is having difficulty finding euphemisms to explain it.

But the Star is completely animal, insect* and fish** mad and it is impossible to avoid the topic of what they, let alone dinosaurs, eat completely. You tend to wince and say  ‘I expect that rabbit is having a sleep’ when you get to that bit. It’s hard to look a three-year old in the face and say, yes, that owl is eating that mouse, look at that blood splatter, imagine the crunch of its delicate little bones as you peruse the encyclopaedia, when not five minutes before you were reading a story about a kind-hearted hamster in a tutu and his best friend the cat in a bowler hat. The kind-hearted talking hamster no less.

That said, it’s probably you and B who are the sensitive ones. It does not seem to bother the Star in the slightest. He cheerfully lists all the animals a lion might be expected to chomp on and many that are improbable, and his eyes light up when he finds a picture of a fox bearing down on an unsuspecting gaggle of chickens. One of his favourite things is to bounce up to the fish counter in the supermarket, point to the most fishy looking fish there and say ‘I eat fish!’ He is even sanguine about the possibility of personal danger. ‘That dinosaur eat me up?’ he asks with relish every time we come across a T-rex.

In fact, the only thing he seems a bit upset about is when it’s insects getting savaged.

The Star really really likes his bug-friends.*** He has a particular downer on spiders for this reason.

This is not B’s only objection to dinosaurs, however. He feels that the Star is putting a lot of effort into learning some really useless facts. He came to this conclusion after the Star had taken him through the latest library book and accurately named all the terrible lizards, and told him about how sauropods swallowed stones.****

You feel B has a point there. The Star would be much better off learning to recognise formula one cars.*****

But your main objection to the dinosaur phase is that it leads you to have to explain evolution over breakfast.

Well there was this timeline picture in the book, showing how we went from microbes to human beings, with a detour via the dinosaurs and you were unwise enough to read the text which went with it. 42 whys later and the Star was frankly disbelieving whilst you had given up. The Star has, after all, only just grasped the concept of the past, which he refers to as ‘last night’ regardless of when it actually happened. The concept of deep time is beyond him.You are almost certainly lucky that he doesn’t think the dinosaurs are, in fact, Transformers in disguise.

At which point you also realised that the problem with creationism is that it makes a far better picture book.

The devil has the best stories.

*Also, related organisms like spiders. Do not get pedantic.

**And crabs. Yes, you know they aren’t fish. Whatever.

***It’s really time to get him a dog, isn’t it?

****Because they didn’t have proper teeth so needed a bit of extra help to grind up the leaves they ate. See, you are learning something too.

*****This weekend, your MiL taught the Star to read ‘baba’ (or rather ‘баба’) and you taught the Star to pick out a Red Bull Formula One car from the others. So so proud.


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